MMus Ethnomusicology


Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

Theoretical and practical grounding in the discipline of ethnomusicology, as well as the opportunity to develop performance and ethnographic skills, regional expertise, and a deeper understanding of global music – just some of what you can expect to develop on the MMus Ethnomusicology. This programme is tailored for musicians and musicologists, anthropologists, teachers and composers, as well as those dedicated to developing an in-depth knowledge of a specific music tradition.

You will study with the largest and most influential team of ethnomusicologists in the UK, who are experts in the musical traditions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Jewish world. You will be part of a thriving culture of performance, research and active engagement with music around the globe.

The programme will suit those looking for a springboard into further research or employment in a range of music-related fields including journalism, industry, NGOs and education, and often serves as a conversion route for those trained predominantly in western music traditions.


A postgraduate degree in Ethnomusicology from SOAS gives students greater intercultural awareness, improved competency in performance and a better understanding of global music which will enable them to continue in the field of research or engage in related work. Equally, they develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and creative capacities including interpersonal skills, communication skills, focus, teamwork, passion and dedication. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • Internet Advertising Board
  • Marie Stopes International
  • Association of Culture & World Music
  • School of Traditional & Popular Music
  • Vortex Jazz Club
  • Sony/EMI
  • S24 Film
  • British Library
  • Grant & Cutler
  • British Library
  • UK Government
  • Warner Music

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

  • Production Assistant
  • Sound Archive assistant
  • Bookseller
  • Solicitor
  • Finance Manager
  • Manager of Musical Association
  • Junior Research Executive
  • Project support officer
  • Policy adviser
  • Playworker
  • Library Assistant
  • Local Councillor


Occasionally the availability of optional modules changes as a result of staffing and other circumstances. Students who had signed up for such modules will be notified as soon as possible and given the opportunity to choose from available alternatives.

Students must complete 120 credits of taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits). In addition to these formal elements, students are expected to attend regular postgraduate and public seminars and may also participate in performance ensemble classes and other activities.

Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis.

  • The part-time MMus may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) in the first year, and two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) and the dissertation in the second year.
  • Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits modules evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the programme. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.


  • Dissertation in Music

Core Modules

  • Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology
  • Music in Global Perspective


Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A.


Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A or List B.


Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List B, List C or List D.

List A: Area Modules

  • Atlantic Africa: Players in the Mediation of African Popular Music
  • Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia
  • Ethnicity, Religion and Gender in Middle Eastern Musical cultures
  • Indian vocal music: Styles and histories
  • Klezmer Music: Roots and Revival
  • Music in Africa: Critical Listening
  • Music in Africa: Travelling on a Song
  • Music, Urbanism and Conflict in Jaffa
  • Music, Place and Politics in Cuba
  • Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters)
  • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters)
  • Sacred Sound in South Asia
  • Music on the Silk Road: travel and circulation (PG)

List B: Additional Music Modules

  • Analysing World Music: Transcription & Analysis in Ethnomusicology
  • Composition
  • Digital traditional broadcasting communication
  • Gender and Music (MMus)
  • Music in Development
  • Performance
  • Sound Recording and Production
  • The Music Business (Masters)

List C: Modules Taught at King's College

SOAS MMus and MA Music students can also take as a credited part of their programme up to 30 credits at Kings College London Music Department, choosing modules from the list on the KCL website.

List D:

Modules at SOAS from other departments or MA Area Studies Modules (including languages). Module choices are subject to the agreement of both the module convenor and the MMus Ethnomusicology convenor. Modules will normally relate to the same geographical region chosen from List A Module(s). Please note that not all option modules may run every year.

Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for this course via the online application form.

We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.

Consideration of Application

The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.

Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.

Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.

Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent), usually in Music.

English Language Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent).

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Oct 2019

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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